The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) began in 1943 and is headquartered on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (near Lincoln Center). The network’s news division was so bad in the 1960s (trailing CBS and NBC) that ABC was nicknamed the “Almost Broadcasting Company.” The term “Almost Broadcasting Company” has been cited in print since at least January 1970.
Other ABC nicknames include “All Bullshit Channel” and “Alphabet Network.”
Wikipedia: American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company as of 1996 and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group, formerly ABC-TV. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948. It is the largest broadcaster in the world by revenues. As one of the Big Three television networks, its programming has contributed to American popular culture.
Corporate headquarters is in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, and the company’s news operations are also centered in Manhattan. Entertainment programming offices are in Burbank, California adjacent to the Walt Disney Studios and the corporate headquarters of The Walt Disney Company.
25 January 1970, New York (NY) Times, “The News--With a Dash of Dirt” by Harry Waters, pg. 93:
Long hampered by the also-ran image of its parent network (industry wags now call ABC “the Almost Broadcasting Company") and a defeatist attitude that one newscaster described as get-it-on-and-get-it-off-because-nobody-is-watching-anyway, WABC-TV News has doubled its ratings for the 6 and 11 o clock shows since going to the “Eyewitness” format in November, 1968.
8 November 1970, Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, MS), “Just another election at NBC” by Nichols Von Hoffman (Washington Post), pg. 5, col. 4:
ABC—the Almost Broadcasting Company—doesn’t figure.
Los Angeles (CA) Times
The Man Who Built ABC : Television: Leonard Goldenson is presented with lifetime achievement award for role in turning the network into a communications powerhouse.
September 17, 1990|LAUREN LIPTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER
Despite its emphasis on innovative programming, by the late 1960s, ABC was still at the bottom of the network heap. Industry insiders joked that its letters stood for “Almost Broadcasting Company.” Others said, “If you want to stop the Vietnam War, put it on ABC--it’ll be over in 13 weeks.”
By Geraldo Rivera with Daniel Paisner
New York, NY: Bantam
A standard industry joke was that ABC’s call letters stood for the Almost Broadcasting Company. It was a line I never heard before I met Al Primo, and then heard all the time after I started work in the newsroom. The joke rankled management because it was on-target: it hit home on the network and local levels. Nationally, ABC was still producing a fifteen-minute newscast, long after CBS and NBC had gone to the half hour.
Encyclopedia of Television News
Edited by Michael D. Murray
Phoenix, AZ; The Oryx Press
The news division was one of the main reasons ABC earned the nickname in the industry as the “Almost Broadcasting Company.”
New York (NY) Times
Elmer Lower, Former President of ABC News, Dies at 98
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: July 31, 2011
When Mr. Lower, a former executive at CBS and NBC, took over ABC’s news division in 1963, it had a staff of about 250. By 1974, when he stepped down as president, the number had tripled, and the “Almost Broadcasting Company,” as he said some people liked to call it, had become a contender, though the other networks would continue to dominate the ratings.